It’s been another exciting year, and we want to thank you all for reading and, if applicable, posting comments on our blog.  Once again, we would like to close out the year with some summary remarks about good and bad stuff related to film, music, books, politics, and family.

Best Film Experiences:

  • Jim:  This year I was blown away by two films whose plots involved the silent film era:  Hugo and The Artist.  The former, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a powerfully redemptive story that is a visual and emotional delight.  Even given his impressive filmography, I regard Hugo as one of Scorsese’s best.  And The Artist is a true original at a time when Hollywood needed a breath of fresh air.
  • Amy: What have I watched this year? Obviously nothing that great or I would be able to remember. I did love the experience of watching Lincoln, but I told Jim afterward, I don’t know if I loved it because it was a great movie or because it was such an amazing performance by Daniel Day Lewis.  He is so good, it’s hard to evaluate the film as a whole.  From a pure experience standpoint, gasping in shock surprise with several girlfriends and a theater full of shocked fellow watchers in Twilight: Breaking Dawn was a highlight.

Worst Film Experiences:

  • Jim:  I didn’t see any really bad films this year, but Hunger Games was a definite disappointment.  I read the book, and then watched the film, and they were equally disappointing.  The problem: none of the characters made any reference to God, prayer, the afterlife, etc.  Given that death and physical trauma figure into the story so prominently, this is highly unrealistic and a significant flaw in the narrative.
  • Amy: This year has seen a lot of disappointments for me, more in the shows that I watch than in films.  Frankly I expect most movies to be bad but several favorites on the small screen turned into just another agenda driven lecture punctuated by commercialist drivel. I guess one of the worst would be Snow White and the Huntsman but was I really expecting that one to be good or did I just want to get out of the house?  Hmm.

Best and Worst Musical Experiences of the Year:

  • Jim:  The new Dylan album, Tempest, was the highlight of the year for me.  These days, every new Dylan album, especially given the fact that the man is so well along in years, is a treat.  And the fact that his music is as good as ever is really astounding.  Unprecedented, in fact.  What other popular artist is still writing and recording great songs into his/her 70s?  Another highlight was the Black Keys concert in Cincy that I attended last March.  Those guys are finally getting the recognition they deserve.  But will their popularity undermine their creativity from here forward?  Time will tell.
  • Amy:  I don’t really do musical experiences.  Concerts give me vertigo and my iPod is mostly full of stuff for the kids.  But I did enjoy discovering The Tallest Man on Earth, The Temper Trap, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Jim’s Favorite Sports Moments of the Year:  Seeing the Detroit Tigers win the American League Championship was definitely a thrill.  But like 2006, they swept their way there (defeating those darn Yankees 4-0), while the Giants had to go the distance to defeat the Cardinals in the NLCS.  So, just like 2006, the Tigers were hurt by the long layoff and got swept in the World Series.  Hopefully, next year, the Tigers can win the ALCS in a more protracted series so they’ll be well-tuned for the World Series.

Jim’s Most Disappointing Sports Moments of the Year:  Watching the Giants sweep the Tigers hurt, but the whole “Bounty-gate” debacle concerning the New Orleans Saints hurt even worse.  Ugh.

Amy’s Best Eating Experience of the Year:  Eating curried goat with my hubby in the Bahamas.  I seriously would have licked the plate had no one been watching.

Amy’s Worst Eating Experience of the Year: I made the mistake of purchasing heavily scented yet temptingly discounted dishwasher detergent a few months back and paid dearly for my frugality when it “tainted” all of our dishes.  No matter what we ate, all I tasted was synthetic lavender.  Yuck.

Satisfying Reads of the Year:

  • Jim:  In the scholarly category, it’s Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies.  As is typical for Plantinga, it is lucid and well-argued—the best treatment of science and religion I’ve ever read.  Also, this year I resolved to read three classics every year, and this year they were Virgil’s Aeneid, George Eliot’s Silas Marner, and Eusebius’s History of the Church (which I am still reading).  Three very different books, but each rich with insight and deserving of the moniker “classic.”  I also greatly enjoyed reading another superb apologetics book by Paul Copan—When God Goes to Starbucks.  He tackles some really challenging questions, such as regarding homosexuality and the Old Testament “holy wars,” and his responses are consistently insightful and sensitive.
  • Amy:  This has been a good book reading year for me. If I am going for mind-expanding, worldview-challenging it would be The Fountainhead.  I realize she would think I am a mindless religious zombie but I still love Ayn Rand.  I read a lot of history this year, my favorite being Destiny of the Republic about the assassination of James Garfield.  For sheer pleasure, Roald Dahl’s Boy and Going Solo were pure delight.

Political High Point of the Year:  Jim:  Still waiting for one.  Amy:  Ditto.

Political Low Point of the Year:  The presidential election.  Nuff said.

Best 2011 Memories of Our Kids:

  • Bailey: “There is no better feeling than picking up a heavy whipped cream can.”
  • Sam: Through tears and cries of pain over a splinter “You promise it’s just a thin layer of tissue?”
  • Maggie: “Mom, do you have a town inside your head where you go when you are bored?”
  • Andrew as he hands us his front tooth after riding the bummer cars: “That was the most awkward time I ever lost a tooth.”  And another good one from Andrew, when explaining that he would rather listen to Rascal Flats than my gospel choice: “I don’t like this one, no offense to God.”

Most Satisfying Shared Experiences of the Year:

  • Jim:  Our time in the Bahamas last January with the Taylor softball team.
  • Amy:  Redoing our upstairs bathroom.

New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Jim:  To take my wife out on even more dates and to avoid sugary carbonated soft drinks.
  • Amy: To limit the number of times I begin sentences with the phrase “I am so sick and tired…” and to take time every day to remember what an awesome guy I married.

Happy 2013 everyone!

7 Responses to “The Best and Worst of 2012”

  1. Andrew Wolgemuth


    I love these year-end Spiegelian summaries. They’re always entertaining…and they help me identify stuff to do in the New Year (e.g. “The Artist” has now been promoted to the top of our NetFlix instant queue).

  2. TristanVick


    Because Hunger Games wasn’t drenched in Christian superstition and lacked supernatural assumptions about an afterlife it was a… “problem”?

    Everyone’s taste are their own, but I do have a friendly suggestion.

    Maybe next time, try holding back on your presuppositions and look at the art for what it is, then judge it on its own merits instead of holding it hostage to the teachings of a couple thousand year old fairy-tale book.

    You can’t read Catcher in the Rye and say, well, it wasn’t Christian enough. You can’t read Shakespeare and say, well, it wasn’t Christian enough. You can’t read Harry Potter and say, well, it wasn’t Christian enough.

    These works weren’t Buddhist enough either. Ah, but you see, the point is moot.

    These works weren’t meant to be “Christian” in the first place. That’s simply not an assumption you can bring to the table.

    • Jim Spiegel


      Tristan, you missed my point, which was about the lack of realism in the Hunger Games, as opposed to an insistence that it must somehow be a Christian film to be good, which would be silly. But I do appreciate you giving me good examples of two logical fallacies in one comment (straw man and false dichotomy). Well done!

      • TristanVick


        Well, you didn’t specify.

        The context was open.

        Hence I didn’t make the fallacies you claim.

        That would require I actually understood your position but misrepresented it somehow. Which wasn’t the case.

        And what do you mean by “realism”?

        Most films today are hyper-realistic.

        The books are fantasy, so why would they *need to be realistic?

        Or are you talking about the character’s personalities?

        See, in order for the fallacies to say I made to have any meaning, you need to define what you mean by “realism” and put it into a context.

        My initial point isn’t wrong, however, even if it wasn’t what you meant.

        Being precise matters.

        • TristanVick


          Actually, all kidding aside, I do realize both Sweden and Japan have religious histories, but they could hardly be considered now.

          Actually, what would be unrealistic in these countries would be ANY reference to God.

          • TristanVick


            Also, the science fiction genre in general tends to be rather secular.

            Without its realism being diminished, I can assure you.

      • TristanVick


        False dichotomy?

        I wasn’t the one making a comparison.

        Saying the characters were too secular and contrasting it against your faith is, however, a comparison.


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